Marqise Lee, receiver (flanker)
Robert Woods 2.0? There are plenty of similarities, not least of which that Lee and the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year prepped together at rising powerhouse Gardena (Calif.) Serra. There is also the body control, the almost-extrasensory awareness, and route running that stands out during voluntary summer workouts, traits that allowed Woods to lead the Trojans with 65 receptions and 792 yards and might be enough to put Lee in the starting lineup immediately.
George Farmer, receiver (split-end)
Whereas Woods broke out last year with his savvy and work ethic, another former Serra teammate will try to do the same in 2011 with sheer physical gifts. Drawing comparison to Dallas Cowboys first-round selection Dez Bryant for his rare combination of size and speed, Farmer's game tape shows the ability to run through tacklers or, most of the time, just run past them. Given his immense talents, it seems to be a matter of when, not if, that potential will be on display at the Coliseum.
Ryan Henderson, defensive back
Choosing USC over Pac-12 newcomers Utah on Signing Day, Henderson may have flown under the radar as a ‘mere' three-star recruit. That changed as soon as the 5-foot-10 corner posted the fastest 40-yard dash of any Trojan last month, though it should not have been a surprise given his best in the nation SPARQ score.
Solidly built like last season's freshman defensive back sensation Nickell Robey, Henderson has been sharp in throwing sessions against the deep and talented crop of receivers. With no clear-cut third corner, Henderson could see action in the secondary and on special teams.
Whitney Blaine, SCPlaybook Beat Writer/Reporter
Aundrey Walker, offensive lineman
Walker's size would excite any Trojan fan. Listed at 6-6, 375, Walker is athletic, with quick feet and good mobility, despite numbers that may allude otherwise. Without seeing any of the freshman offensive lineman (Cody Temple, Cyrus Hobbi and Marcus Martin) dueling in a more competitive scenario, determining any as a surefire starter would be folly. But I think if any guy has a chance based upon the eye alone, it'd be Walker. He's the biggest guy on the Trojans offensive line and looking at his game tape, he commits to every play and is seemingly unbeatable in man coverage.
Choosing between Ohio State and USC, Walker's commitment to the Trojans is an essential component to aid their depleted line. He can play either guard spots but is slated on USC's depth chart at right tackle. If he can drop some weight and eat up USC's playbook, Walker could be the answer to USC's woes.
Amir Carlisle, tailback
This running back is nothing but impressive. He has the grades to match his ability, and has an incredible determination to accomplish his goals. Decommitting from Stanford after former coach Jim Harbaugh's departure, Carlisle is playing behind a loaded tailback class at USC, including veteran Marc Tyler, Curtis McNeal, D.J. Morgan and Dillon Baxter. If he can keep his game consistent and his mind focused, he may not need that redshirt year. He has great speed and cutback ability, and goes all out in everything he does. He might be too useful for Kiffin not to utilize in some way.
Lamar Dawson, linebacker
Expected to come in and fill a big role, Dawson (6-2, 230) was given the No. 55 jersey this offseason. Veteran middle linebacker Chris Galippo should look over his shoulder, because Dawson, a product from Kentucky (named Kentucky's Athlete of the Year) is tough. And as the defense's go-to leader, this position needs an intelligent player who will leave it all out on the field. Dawson, with a self-reported 3.7 GPA in high school and a strong football mind, will definitely be utilized in the fall. It seems doubtful that he'll get the starting spot over Galippo, but Dawson has the longevity and potential to be the "55" that Trojan fans haven't seen since the days of Rivers, Maualuga, Cushing and Maiava.